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Timothy Olmsted, St. Paul Teacher Accused Of Discriminating Against Black Students, Sees Case Move To Federal Court
Sep-13-2012 511 0


Heights Community School parents have filed a lawsuit that is now moving to federal courts against the St. Paul Public School District in Minnesota, amid an investigation into allegations that teacher Timothy Olmsted discriminated against black students.

Olmsted resigned after the district placed him on paid leave in the spring after parents complained that he called black students "fat, black and stupid" and told them, "you will never amount to anything" and "you only have one parent.

The teacher also allegedly forced black students to sit in the back of the classroom, or sit with their desks facing the wall.

"He told the whole entire class that it is easier for him to teach rich white folks than poor black people," Tolbert told reporters.

Olmsted resigned in March, but is still being paid through the first week of October, and parents are dissatisfied. He is also not facing disciplinary action due to the resignation.

In the suit, parents claim that the district failed to protect their children from Olmsted, the Star Tribune reports. Latasha Tolbert, mother of 12-year-old Jamia Ware, said she made nearly 100 calls to school officials in the fall regarding Olmsted's classroom behavior, but the no one acted until January.

District representatives, however, tell the Star Tribune that an investigation was launched promptly and all complaints against the teacher were addressed immediately. Olmsted's attorney notes that the teacher "denies any improper conduct and believes that the claims against him are baseless."

But the educator has a record of controversy. The St. Paul School District reported in 2002 that Olmsted gave a sixth grade girl a birthday card with sexual innuendos, and requested that she read it to the class. He was also accused of giving a graphic description of castrating horses and throwing testicles into a field to feed cats.

For the various incidents over the years, disciplinary actions against him have ranged from written reprimands to days of suspension without pay. Students also find his more recent, racial comments strange.

"He would say random things like when I get out of the shower my dog dries me off," student Aylecia Ingram-Jones told reporters in a separate report.

Her father, Miguel Jones, has moved the teen to another school district, and asserts that there should be no question about whether Olmsted should be allowed to keep teaching.

"I wouldn't stand for it," Jones said. "Right is right. Wrong is wrong."

Minnesota does not have statewide regulations regarding disciplinary action for teachers, so process is followed based on district decisions and as outlined in teachers' union contracts.

The allegations in St. Paul are similar to complaints against Kathleen Pyles, a math teacher at North End Middle School in Waterbury, Conn., who was placed on paid leave in June while officials investigate claims that she addressed a black student with a racist remark.

Parents have accused Pyles of inappropriately calling a student "black boy" when she couldn't remember his name. When she first called the boy by the wrong name, he pointed out her mistake. So she responded, "How about black boy? Go sit down, black boy."

Parents are calling for her dismissal.

In another incident in March, a Virginia high school English teacher allegedly asked the only black student in the class to read a poem in a "blacker" manner.

Jordan Shumate, a ninth-grader at George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Va., says he was reading aloud Langston Hughes' "Ballad of the Landlord" when teacher Marilyn Bart interrupted him.

"She told me, 'Blacker, Jordan -- c'mon, blacker. I thought you were black,'" Shumate told The Washington Post.

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Miami Gardens Police Chief Stephen Johnson was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Dania Beach Friday, officials said.

Mayor Oliver Gilbert confirmed the arrest and said Johnson was fired immediately.

Jail records showed Johnson, 53, was being held on $300 bond. It was unknown if he has an attorney.

According to a Broward Sheriff's Office arrest report, deputies were conducting an undercover operation targeting solicitation of prostitution at a Dania Beach hotel when Johnson was arrested.

Authorities had placed an escort ad on backpage.com and two detectives were posing as prostitutes at the hotel, the affidavit said.

Johnson had called the number on the ad and arranged to pay $100 for 30 minutes with two prostitutes, the report said.

When Johnson arrived at the hotel room, he was let in and handed over the $100, the report said. He had two condoms in his pocket when he was arrested, the report said.

A news release from the department said Assistant Chief Antonio Brooklen will serve as interim chief.

"We remain committed to excellence and integrity on every level," the department said in the release. "We will not allow Mr. Johnson's bad judgment to reflect negatively on the hardworking officers of the City of Miami Gardens and the residents they serve on a daily basis."

The department came under fire earlier this month following the officer-involved shooting of 25-year-old Lavall Hall.

Johnson said Hall attacked two officers with a broom handle and was shot twice with a Taser before he was fatally shot by an officer.

Hall's family has been critical of police in the wake of the shooting, holding a vigil and protest and demanding more answers in the shooting.

Johnson was named Miami Gardens' Police chief in May 2014 after a long career with the North Miami Police Department. He also served as North Miami's city manager from 2011 to 2014.

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AP Feb-28-2015 97 0
Anthony Mason, a longtime NBA player who helped the New York Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals, has died at the age of 48.

A Knicks spokesperson confirmed Mason's death to ESPN. The 13-year NBA veteran had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure earlier this month.

Mason's son, Anthony Jr., released a statement:

“ First, I want to thank all those who offered prayers and well-wishes for my Father, our family really appreciated it. Overnight, New York City and the world lost a legend, a friend, a brother...but more than anything, our father, Anthony Mason. As you all would expect, our father—Big Mase—put up an incredible fight dealing with severe heart issues. I'm wishing this was something else I was writing, but Pops, we've got to let you know we love you and know you'll always be with us.

I ask at this time that you respect our family's privacy with regard to questions as our family takes the time to mourn.”

Longtime NBA media personality Peter Vecsey initially reported Mason's condition Feb. 11:

Mason started his pro basketball career overseas in 1988 after being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers 53rd overall out of Tennessee State, and he also played in the Continental Basketball Association. He eventually established stateside staying power as a 13-year NBA veteran.

Inside Hoops provided comments from Phil Jackson:

For much of his prime, Mason played for the New York Knicks ('91-'92 to '95-'96) and Charlotte Hornets ('96-'97 to '99-'00).

Fans in New York and Charlotte came to witness the stocky Mason's physical, impassioned brand of basketball, and he was a key contributor in helping the Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals.

During Mason's only season with the Miami Heat in 2000-2001, he was named an All-Star. That year, he posted averages of 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest.

In total, he played for six different NBA franchises—Nets, Nuggets, Knicks, Hornets, Heat, Bucks—before retiring after the 2002-2003 season with Milwaukee.

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NINA GOLGOWSKI Feb-27-2015 148 0
An Atlanta woman is demanding justice after she says she was filmed being savagely beaten unconscious by her so-called friends over a burger.

In a disgusting 2 1/2 minute cell phone video, Myriah Pointer, 23, is seen being painfully dragged by her hair, punched and stomped on by three screaming women.

The Sunday morning attack, which left her with two black eyes, a chipped tooth and a concussion, was because they accused her of sitting on someone's burger during a drinking game, she told police.

"I was held down and stomped until I was unconscious. Once I gained consciousness they were still beating and stomping me," she later posted on Facebook with pictures showing her horrific bruises.

Myriah Pointer, 23, said it was her friends who viciously attacked her over the weekend, leaving her with two black eyes, a chipped tooth and a concussion.

Pointer identified two of her attackers to local news stations as her best friends and the third as one of their cousins.

Witnessing it all was one of their boyfriends, who filmed the attack, and one woman's 3-year-old child, she said.

When the animals finally stopped their clawing she was able to walk away, but with her attackers trailing behind.

She said she was held for three hours by them before she was able to call her aunt to come pick her up.

Asked by police why she didn't immediately call 911, "Ms. Pointer stated that she did not feel safe calling from that location," according to the police report.

In a Facebook post she asked that her story be shared so justice can be served.

"I am BLESSED to be alive and I need justice to be served because I DID NOT deserve this," she wrote while accusing Atlanta police of not "taking this as serious as it is."

Police, reached by the Daily News Thursday night, said they're investigating and that charges "will be forthcoming."

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Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to advance Loretta Lynch to be the nation's next attorney general, overcoming Republican objections to her support of President Obama's executive action on immigration.

Lynch's committee approval, by a vote of 12-8, sets up final consideration by the full Senate.

The panel's vote comes nearly a month after a confirmation hearing in which the 55-year-old career federal prosecutor promised to repair the Justice Department's strained relationship with Congress and confront simmering racial tensions over law enforcement's dealings in minority communities across the country.

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Adrian Peterson's return to the NFL cleared another hurdle Thursday as U.S. District Court Judge David Doty ruled that the former league MVP must be reinstated.

Peterson, 29, is currently a member of the Minnesota Vikings and was placed on the commissioner's exempt list following the season opener due to child abuse allegations that Peterson faced in Texas. He pleaded no contest to reckless assault on his four-year-old son, and was subsequently suspended until at least April 15 by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in November.

The NFL Players Association argued in court on behalf of Peterson, insisting that Goodell was acting outside his authority with the ban.

Peterson is scheduled to earn a base salary of $12.75 million in 2015 and count $15.4 million against the Vikings' salary cap. A CBS Sports report earlier in the week maintained that Peterson's agent Ben Dogra and Vikings vice president of football operations Rob Brzezinski needed to be separated while at the NFL's scouting combine in Indianapolis. It is unclear whether Peterson will be back in Minnesota as a member of the Vikings.

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Bobbi Kristina Brown is reportedly being taken out of her medically induced coma after more than three weeks in an Atlanta hospital.

The comatose daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, who was found unresponsive in a bathtub on Jan. 31, is being weaned off her coma-inducing medications, but remains on life support, People magazine reported.

Despite the hopeful step toward the 21-year-old's recovery, one source close to the family told the magazine that her condition remains "severe."

"There will be a sign of hope, and then nothing," said a family source. "Every day, we wonder if this will be the day that we get good news."

The source said they hope the decision to wake her will "give us some answers."

The news came as Brown's boyfriend, Nick Gordon, filed a temporary restraining order against the Roswell Police Department investigating reports of drug use in the couple's Georgia home, The Wrap reported.

Gordon’s attorneys reportedly hope to block authorities' access to home video surveillance footage, arguing that it's a breach of privacy and has an "insufficient link between the crime alleged."

The daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobbi Brown is reportedly being weaned off her coma-inducing medication at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Earlier this week a report accused the 21-year-old of regularly taking heroin, cocaine and Xanax in the months before she was hospitalized.

Eerily like her late mother, who was also found in a bathtub three years ago this month, Xanax was one of the drugs found her Houston's system at her time of death.

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Jessica Huseman Feb-25-2015 133 0
Marvell Robinson was in kindergarten when a classmate reportedly poured an anthill on him at the playground. After that, the gibes reportedly became sharper: "Why are you that color?" one boy taunted at the swing set, leaving Marvell scared and speechless. The slow build of racial bullying would push his mother, Vanessa Robinson, to pull him from his public school and homeschool him instead.

Marvell is one of an estimated 220,000 African American children currently being homeschooled, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. Black families have become one of the fastest-growing demographics in homeschooling, with black students making up an estimated 10 percent of the homeschooling population. (For comparison’s sake, they make up 16 percent of all public-school students nationwide, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.)

And while white homeschooling families traditionally cite religious or moral disagreements with public schools in their decision to pull them out of traditional classroom settings, studies indicate black families are more likely to cite the culture of low expectations for African American students or dissatisfaction with how their children—especially boys—are treated in schools.

Marvell, now 7 and in the second grade, was the only black student in both his kindergarten and first-grade classes, and one of only a few black students in his San Diego elementary school, according to his mother. And Marvell’s Asperger syndrome—a high-functioning form of autism that makes social interaction difficult—only added to the curiosity and cruelty with which his fellow classmates approached him, Robinson added. She was concerned the school wasn’t doing enough about it. "I just thought maybe I could do a better job myself," she said.

"They said, ‘kids will be kids,’ and the only solution was for Marvell to be monitored—like he had done something wrong," Robinson said. "In the end, I don’t think that anyone should have to monitor my kid" because of other kids’ behavior.

Robinson allowed Marvell to finish first grade there and began homeschooling him when he started second grade in September. Robinson adjusted her nursing schedule to include 12-hour shifts on the weekends so she could take on educating Marvell during the week. Her husband, a sous chef at a restaurant in downtown San Diego, continues to work full-time and participates in lessons when he can.

And while her primary motivation was giving Marvell individualized attention, Robinson was unable to separate her worries about racial bullying from the decision. "If he hadn’t been bullied I would have really looked into transferring schools, or going back to where I grew up in Kansas," she said. "At least in Kansas it was more racially diverse. I assumed that’s how the schools would be in San Diego, but I was wrong."

Robinson likely joins hundreds of other African American parents who've decided to homeschool their children because of dissatisfaction with the traditional campuses. Indeed, Joyce Burges at National Black Home Educators has watched her membership grow "exponentially" in the 15 years since the organization was founded, a trend also reflected in Marvell’s home state of California. While Burges’s national conferences in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, used to attract only around 50 people, they now attract upwards of 400, she said—a noteworthy number for the first organization for black homeschoolers in a sea of predominantly white organizations.

Research conducted by Marie-Josée Cérol—known professionally as Ama Mazama—also offers insight into the growing trend. A faculty member in the African American Studies department at Temple University in Philadelphia, Mazama began homeschooling her three children 12 years ago and realized quickly that there was little research on black homeschoolers.

"Whenever there are mentions of African American homeschoolers, it’s assumed that we homeschool for the same reasons as European-American homeschoolers, but this isn’t really the case," she said. "Because of the unique circumstances of black people in this country, there is really a new story to be told."

In a 2012 report published in the Journal of Black Studies , Mazama surveyed black homeschooling families from around the country and found that most chose to educate their children at home at least in part to avoid school-related racism. Mazama calls this rationale "racial protectionism" and said it is a response to the inability of schools to meet the needs of black students. "We have all heard that the American education system is not the best and is falling behind in terms of international standards," she said. "But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower."

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Kevin Krause Feb-24-2015 230 0
A Cedar Hill husband and wife who ran a tax preparation business will each spend 15 years in federal prison for a series of frauds they concocted, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Jacqueline and Gladstone Morrison were sentenced Friday in Fort Worth by U.S. District Judge John McBryde.

The sentence of 187 months, although steep for a tax preparation fraud case, was below the sentencing guidelines in the case that ranged from 262 months to 327 months.

McBryde also ordered them to pay nearly $18 million in restitution.

The couple operated Jacqueline Morrison & Associates on North Collins in Arlington and on James Street in Fort Worth. The business was opened in 2005 and continued until a federal search warrant shut it down in 2010.

The Morrisons were charged with 17 counts alleging tax evasion and fraud. They were convicted at trial in October 2014.

Gladstone Morrison, 43, has been in custody since the conviction. He’s a former standout in the high jump at the University of Texas at Arlington.

McBryde found him to be a flight risk because he was born and raised in Jamaica and still has a lot of family there, court records show. He became a U.S. citizen in 2010. He has said his UTA track scholarship was what brought him to the U.S.

Court evidence also showed he has traveled extensively in the past seven years, to Jamaica as well as: Frankfurt, Germany; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Panama; Marseille, France; Tel Aviv, Israel; San Domenico, Dominican Republic; Beijing, China; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Los Cabos, Mexico.

McBryde ordered Jacqueline Morrison, 37, to begin serving her sentence on March 13.

Neither of them had a prior criminal record, records show.

The couple married in 2004. Jacqueline Morrison is a certified public accountant and internal auditor who is the only one of her family to attend college.

Her attorney, Peter Fleury, called the proposed punishment “draconian” and asked for leniency. He said money stolen from the government in the scheme went to the taxpayers, most of whom weren’t required to return any of it.

“That is a tremendously disproportionate disparity in sentencing,” he said.

Acting U.S. Attorney John Parker, of the Northern District of Texas, defended the way the case was handled.

“The aggressive prosecution of these individuals is vital to maintaining public confidence in our tax system,” Parker said in a statement.

R. Damon Rowe, the agent in charge of the IRS’ criminal investigation office in Dallas, said most CPAs try to achieve the highest ethical standards while Jacqueline Morrison did not.

“She and her husband, Gladstone, abused the trust their clients placed in them and their company,” he said in a statement. “The Morrisons are now being held accountable for their corrupt actions.”

The Morrisons increased their clients’ tax refunds by claiming fictitious business losses on their income tax returns, prosecutors said. In return, they charged higher fees for the additional paperwork. They earned more than $2 million in fees during the scheme, prosecutors said.

The Morrisons had their clients sign forms that tried to place all responsibility for any false information on the clients, according to prosecutors.

The larger refunds allowed the couple to increase their business through positive word of mouth, prosecutors said.

They used their large client list to win a $750,000 franchise agreement with Express Tax Services, a subsidiary of H&R Block.

But after signing that agreement, the IRS stripped the couple of their electronic tax preparation authority due to the fraud investigation.

To hide that fact, the Morrisons gave Express Tax Services the electronic filing identification number of a business associate, according to prosecutors.

The Morrisons then secretly entered into a separate agreement to sell JMA to an individual. Gladstone Morrison tried to hide that from Express Tax by telling the company that the person was their office manager.

The Morrisons received separate payments from both Express Tax and the individual, who was not named in court documents, due to their parallel agreements, prosecutors said.

When those agreements fell apart, the couple tried to sell JMA to RealTex Ventures LLC for $425,000. The Morrisons lied again when they told the company they were not under investigation.

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PIERRE THOMAS Feb-24-2015 176 0
While the public waits for a Justice Department announcement over two separate investigations spurred by the summer shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, the department is going to first announce its findings in the killing of Trayvon Martin.


ABC News has learned Martin’s family will soon be notified that the Justice Department will not be filing charges against George Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old after a confrontation in 2012. Thursday marks three years to the day since Martin was killed.

Federal prosecutors concluded there is not sufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., intentionally violated Martin’s civil rights, sources told ABC News.

The case sparked intense discussions over race in America because Martin was walking to his home with only Skittles and an iced tea in his hands.

Florida prosecutors tried to convict Zimmerman of state-level murder and manslaughter charges, but in July 2013 a jury acquitted him, saying prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to prove their case.

One juror -– the only minority on the all-female jury –- later told ABC News that “as the law was read to me, if you have no proof that he killed him intentionally, you can't say he's guilty."

"You can't put the man in jail even though in our hearts we felt he was guilty," she said. "But we had to grab our hearts and put it aside and look at the evidence."

In Sanford, race-related tensions had been simmering for nearly a century, but Martin’s death “was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back,’” bringing “those issues to the surface,” the new Sanford police chief, Cecil Smith, recently told federal officials.

After Martin was killed, Holder sat down his own teenage son to explain that -– as unfair as it may be -– young black men must often interact with police in a different way than others, he told an NAACP convention in July 2013. It was “a conversation I hoped I'd never have to have,” Holder added.

As media attention mounted over Martin’s death, protests grew across the country calling for justice. The city of Sanford now says a police department had not been scrutinized like that by the press, religious organizations, social activists and the broader public since Los Angeles police beat Rodney King in 1991.

Zimmerman was not a police officer and the neighborhood watch program he was a part of was independent from local police.

Many accused Zimmerman of discriminating against Martin –- essentially taking action against the teenager and ultimately killing him because Martin was black. Zimmerman is Hispanic.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and FBI opened an investigation into the case, noting “experienced federal prosecutors” would determine “whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation” of federal law. In a statement, the department noted there are “limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction.”

Privately and publicly, Justice Department officials have been telegraphing all along that they were unlikely to file charges against Zimmerman. And in November 2013, Holder said the case against Zimmerman “in substantial part was resolved” with his acquittal months earlier.

Nevertheless, federal officials have insisted their civil-rights probe would be thorough and complete. Several months ago –- nearly two years into the Justice Department’s investigation –- Holder said federal investigators were still seeking to interview certain witnesses “as a result of some recent developments.”

More recently, Holder has said he hoped to announce the findings of the Zimmerman and Ferguson-related probes before he leaves office, which could happen in a matter of weeks, depending on when the U.S. Senate confirms his successor.

Holder has said then when a decision is announced in the Zimmerman case, it will be accompanied by “as much information” as possible detailing the Justice Department’s findings.

In the Ferguson case, the department is currently conducting two probes into the matter.

A criminal investigation will try to determine whether then-officer Darren Wilson used unreasonable force and intentionally violated Michael Brown’s civil rights when he shot the unarmed teenager in August. The second probe - though not criminal in nature –- will look more broadly into whether the Ferguson police department has routinely engaged in a "pattern or practice" of unlawful and discriminatory policing.

A state grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, declined to indict Wilson in Novembe4 2014. Many expect the Justice Department will not be able to bring federal charges against Wilson, but will take action against the local police department.

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